U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. – Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich announced today that Kurt Kanaskie has been hired as an assistant men’s basketball coach. Kanaskie replaces Steve Snell, who left to take a similar position at Santa Clara.
Kanaskie comes to the Academy from Jacksonville University where he was an assistant coach. A coaching veteran, Kanaskie has been at the helm of three programs and worked in power conferences for much of the past decade.
Kanaskie served as the head coach at Drake for seven seasons (1996–2003) and was one of the most successful Division II head coaches in Pennsylvania history.
“Kurt Kanaskie brings a wealth of experience to our staff. Having been a head coach for 18 years, he has sat in the head coach’s chair. He is an outstanding all-around coach,” Pilipovich said. “He’s a very good recruiter; he is an excellent skill development coach and is extremely good on the floor as a teacher. He has developed great relationships with the players he has coached. He has performed this job at a high level and will be a great compliment to our staff. We are exited he is joining our Falcon family”
Following a stellar playing career at La Salle, Kanaskie began his career as an assistant coach at South Carolina for five seasons. His first head coaching job came at Division II Lock Haven, where he was in charge of the Bald Eagles for three seasons and was twice named the Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference (PSAC) Coach of the Year. He inherited a Bald Eagle program that was 18-84 over the previous four seasons and in his first year set a school record for wins with 15. His LHU team reached the NCAA Tournament a year later and earned the school's first-ever national ranking. He was named PSAC Coach of the Year twice at LHU.
Moving within the conference, he then took over at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In eight seasons, Kanaskie was named the PSAC Coach of the Year two more times and twice named The Basketball Times National Coach of the Year. Kanaskie inherited an IUP program that had posted four straight losing seasons and, after a first year of building a solid foundation, posted seven straight winning records. In 1993, IUP made the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) semifinals for the first time in 16 years.
The next season (`94-'95), IUP grabbed its first national ranking in school history (No. 5), earned an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time ever and advanced to the Elite Eight. A year later (`95-'96), IUP earned a No. 1 national ranking and advanced to the national semifinals.
Moving up to Division I, Kanaskie was named the head coach at Drake, where he stayed for seven seasons until 2003. He then moved to Penn State, first as an assistant coach under Ed DeChellis and later as the associate head coach. In his years in State College, the Nittany Lions claimed three postseason berths and won the 2009 NIT Championship. Departing Penn State after the 2010-11 season, he spent one season as the associate head coach at Navy, and then moved on to become an assistant coach at Virginia Tech for the past two seasons.
Kanaskie earned his bachelor’s degree from La Salle in 1980 and a master’s in business administration from South Carolina in 1985. While at La Salle, he earned All-Big Five and All-East Coast Conference honors, was an academic All-American, and left as the school’s ninth all-time leading scorer. The NBA’s Golden State Warriors drafted him.
A native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Kanaski (born April 14, 1959) has three children, a daughter, Kristin Kanaskie Grotewold, and sons Kevin Kanaskie and Kyle Kanaskie.
STEVE SNELL DEPARTURE:
“Our whole program is very excited and happy for Steve and his family to have this opportunity. No one has been more dedicated, loyal, or invested in our program than Steve has been for the last seven years and he has been a huge part of the success we’ve had. We are truly going to miss him and we’re sorry to see him go but we’re extremely happy for him and wish him nothing but the best of luck,” Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich.